Columbia hosts its biggest Memorial Day Parade
COLUMBIA - Columbia hosted the biggest Salute to Veterans Memorial Day Parade in the event's 29 years of history.
The parade hosted 72 entries, the largest parade in the 29 years of the event, Brett Hendren, Memorial Day parade boss, said.
"Last year there was 67, so we continue to grow each year and we look forward to be even larger next year."
He also said that Memorial Day is more then a holiday.
"I think it's a little bit more then just grilling burgers and having a beer. It's honoring those that have fallen and fought for this country. And that includes the man and woman left behind that had to endure the hardships of war on domestic soil as well," Hendren said.
Michael Brewer, a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army, said he tries to come to this parade every year, and he is excited to see that American mentality towards the military has changed since he served.
"I personally observed and was part of a seeing a lot of anti-military activities during the early 1970s following Vietnam," he said. "So, It's been wonderful to see that turned around, and to our veterans I 'Thank you' and what they do."
The parade started on the corner of Broadway and College Ave., ending at the Columbia College Athletic Field.
Kayla Riel and Macauley Stubbs, Columbia residents, said they come this event every year to honor all veterans, specially those close to home.
"I come from a big Navy family; grandfather, uncle, my cousin right now is in active duty. So, we like to come out and support," Riel said.
"My mom is a O-5 in the Navy, commander. She was deployed to Afghanistan a couple of years back. I've had fathers, cousin, uncles, pretty strong military family," Stubbs said. ""It's something that is really close to our hearts."
Riel said that the best part of the event was seeing the community come together in support of those who serve our country.
"For me, it's just really good to see a lot of people in Columbia get together. We are truly honoring everyone who has passed, everyone who as given their lives," she said. "So, for me that's really special even seeing kids. You know, they might not truly understand whats going on but at least families are bringing them out here and showing them why we are here."
After the parade the US Army Parachute Team, The Black Daggers and the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team The SkyHawks, parachuted into the Columbia College Athletic Field as part of the Salute To The Nation Ceremony.
"I was pretty pleased with the turnout, there was a lot of people at the air show. It was well attended. And the parade and everything. I think that this community does support the military and the veterans, and I am very pleased," Brewer said. "It's just a time to stop and think about the people that have given their lives for this country serving in the military. It's an honor and a privileged, but it some times requires tremendous sacrifice. Ours nation stops to thank those people that have served, and I think that is nice that we do that."
Hendren left a message for those who were not able to attend this year's show.
"For those who don't know we are one of the largest free air shows in the nation. So, if you didn't catch it this year, there is always the next."